Tuesday 5 February 2019

Flaming Home! (Episode Three)

Najwa’s Point of View
I can hardly breathe. I feel a throbbing pain at the back of my head. My mind is a whirl of confusion. I have been pacing around the room for minutes now. I am disappointed…disappointed with everyone! Mrs. Bola had given my position to someone else and Anas have been mocking me in my face.

It’s no doubt that he is happy I didn’t win the position but guess what? I’m still richer than him. My best friend didn’t help matters yesterday. She actually walked into that kitchen and made amala for Anas!

No one but Anas! She was practically smiling as she watched him eat the food. What was the meaning of that? Trying to please him? Isn’t she supposed to be by my side? If I hate my husband, she has to hate him too. That’s what friends are for!

I thrust my hand on the sofa, furious because Anas spite me this morning. Yes, he wasn’t satisfied with what he did yesterday. He had to tarnish my image in the presence of my daughter!

“The food Auntie Barakah made yesterday was really delicious. Mom doesn’t make food like this. Why do we have to eat noodles every day?” Sahadat had asked avidly as she poured milk into her bowl of cereal.

Anas made a burst of rich, throaty laughter and ruffled her hair, eyeing me in mockery. “This is what every mother is meant to do. Prepare good food for the family.” He had replied.

“So mom isn’t a good mother?” Sahadat widened her eyes in shock.

“Is she?” he laughed again and poured more cereal into her bowl.

He wasn’t satisfied with mocking me and displaying his excitement over the news. He had to spoil me in front of my daughter!

“Where’s this tie?” Anas is muttering as he enters the room.

I hurry towards him and grab the collar of his shirt fiercely.

“Whoa! Whoa! Not this morning, Najwa. We can do this when we’ve returned from work. I have a meeting with my boss this morning.” Anas is saying breathily with a look of haughty disdain.

Ehen…you want to progress in your career while you watch mine crumble abi? It’s a lie…a big lie. Now you want my only child to see me as a bad mother. I say you lie!” I yell at his face.

Anas chuckles and stares at me. “I lie? All I said is the truth and you know that. You might hide your true self from the outside world but not from your family.”

Really? He can talk? I need to pull him harder.

I grab his shirt with all of my strength and pull him forward. Anas coughs and pushes me away, making me land to the ground with a loud thud.

“You want to kill me? You will not succeed.” He walks towards the wardrobe and I run after him, kneading my sore hip.

“I will succeed oo. I will kill you in this house one day. You are wicked and shameless. A good-for-nothing husband!” I jostle towards the table and reach for my powder. Placing my palms over it, I hasten to where he is standing and smudge his white shirt with the brown powder.

“You are crazy, Najwa. Something is wrong with you!” he yells in rage as his eyes turn blood-shot.

“Yes, I don kolo. I have just started with you.” I grab his collection of ties and dash to the bathroom as he takes off after me.

He is too late. I have dipped them into the bucket of water before he enters the bathroom.

Drained in anger and frustration, Anas covers his face with his trembling hands.

“I feel happy now.” I grin as I scuttle out of the room.

Sahadat and I will leave the house without him. After some hours, he can sort himself out and… will be absent for his so-called meeting.
“You’re trying to tell me that you hardly quarrel with your husband? How’s that possible?” the caller with gravelly voice asks.

I try my best to maintain composure as I smile and reply to his question. “It’s all about understanding. When you love and understand yourselves, they’ll hardly be any need for disagreement. You are one…like a person….” I say in a fake British accent, remembering how I’d dealt with Anas this morning.

I wonder how he will meet up with his meeting on time. The thought of him driving to work with a frown makes my smile broader.

“But Najwa, how can that be possible? You’re saying that you and your husband are always in good terms?”

“Always in good terms,” I reply confidently.

Can someone put this caller out of the line before I do so myself?

“Okay. Thank you. Have a nice day.”

“Bye, thanks for calling…we’ll wrap the show here this morning. I’ll see you same time, same station tomorrow. Have a great and fruitful day!” I wave my hands and smile at the camera.

“Gosh!” I stand up and walk out of the room, swearing loudly. I’m still angry and disappointed that I didn’t get the position. I had strutted about the office yesterday, promising to take my colleagues out for lunch. They’ll probably be mocking me!

“Oh, hey Najwa.” Barakah comes closer, her satin skirt swaying and rustling. She stretches her hands to embrace me but I decline, rolling my eyes at her.

“What happened?”

“You’re asking me? Were you not the one taking care of that man like you’re his wife?” I remark as I am walking to my office, Barakah tailing behind me.

She chuckles. “As your friend, I had to take care of your family since you were down. You don’t expect me to sit down and watch them wail in hunger.”

I stare at her. Long neck filled with hollows. Long legs like that of an antelope. I wish that I can find her a man… or maybe find her a better job…

“I did the right thing, Najwa.”

“You’re my best friend and my enemy should be yours too. You have no right to smile at Anas.” I adjust the hem of my chiffon blouse as I walk into my office. I take my seat and sip from my cup of cold coffee.

“Okay. I promise to never do that again. So, how are you holding up? Have you seen Mutmahinat today?” Barakah asks, sitting in front of me.

At the sound of her name, my spine aches from within. I grind my teeth and clench my fist. “That little pipsqueak? I haven’t seen her.”

“She was walking to everyone’s table this morning. Greeting everyone and smiling graciously like she’s a model for toothpaste advert.”

“What was she putting on?” the last she will do is to compete with me in dressing.

“One yeye yellow skirt and a black T-shirt that made her look like a toothpick. I did a little background check on her and discovered that she is a divorcee with two children. Two boys!”

I spill coffee on my blouse in bewilderment. Divorcee? Two children? I stare at my computer and all I can see is her face.

“You should confront her…threaten her. She took your place, Najwa. Fight for it!” Barakah motivates me as she toys with the stapler on the table.

“You’re correct. Why haven’t I thought of that?”

In the flash of a minute, I am standing by Mutmahinat’s table in her office…I mean my office!

“To what do I owe this pleasure ma’am?” she smiles at me.

Mutmahinat is undoubtedly the most beautiful woman in the company. She has fair, glowing skin and her face is always plastered with a smile.

“You took what belongs to me and you won’t go scot-free. I will deal with you and make sure that I get what is rightfully mine.” I say, irritably.

Mutmahinat smiles mutinously. That smile, I wish that I can make it fade from her face. I wonder how she is able to gain so much confidence. People get intimidated by me…but she is different.

I think of what to get her furious. “You cannot even manage your husband. He had to divorce you. How can you manage our department?”

Mutmahinat’s face suddenly creases into a frown. “You have to leave now. Please!” She says, nettled.

“I’ll leave…but I’ve said the truth. Tell Mr. Bola that you’re no longer interested.” I screech in anger and storm out of her office.

I clean the beads of sweat that have formed around my forehead with the sleeve of my blouse. “Mrs. Najwa, I want to see you immediately.” Mrs. Bola suddenly appears in front of me.

It isn’t up to five minutes and Mutmahinat has reported me to Mrs. Bola? She’s just a timid woman.

I follow her grudgingly to her office.

“Why did you threaten Mutmahinat? Who said you deserve the position?”

“My TV show is the most popular and I’ve been working effortlessly for years. How else do you expect me to prove that I deserve the position?” I stare at Mrs. Bola’s face, filled with an over-do of make-up.

She is pudgy, chocolate complexion and always dressed in her usual shirt and palazzo pants…with a scarf wrapped around her head. “I understand you but the management has a reason for this. Mrs. Mutmahinat was intentionally brought here to head over the department. You must accept your defeat and accept her as your boss. Also, you shouldn’t use any word of threat on her anymore.”

“Okay,” I force the word as I watch Mrs. Bola nod in appreciation.
I am walking out of the building, planning on how to hug and kiss Anas without anyone noticing that we’re acting. He’ll be very angry with me and I’m scared that he might not return the gesture.

I flinch as my eyes catch the usual spot where Anas always park the car. He is not alone. He is with Mutmahinat. They are talking and laughing. What are they saying? What is Anas thinking? Doesn’t he have an idea that she is my enemy and he is my husband?

I brace myself as I walk towards the car. Mutmahinat is laughing at one of Anas’s joke…his dry jokes I pretended was funny.

It is obvious that she is trying to impress him!

“Asalamu ‘Alaykum. How are you?” I grin maliciously and give Mutmahinat a dirty glare.

“I should be leaving now. Bye, Anas.”

“Bye Mutmahinat.” He smiles as he waves at her.

I try to control my temper as I enter the car. “What was the meaning of that?”

“What? My new friend, Mutmahinat?”

“Anas, you know this lady is my sworn enemy and you made her your friend. Don’t you know that she’s after me? First, she takes a position that’s rightfully mine and now, she’s trying to seduce you because she believes that we’re in love.”

“You overthink things, Najwa. Mutmahinat is harmless.” Anas insists as he takes a bottle of water beside him and gulps it.

“Well…I’m sorry for being a nuisance this morning. Did you meet up with your appointment?” I ask with concerned eyes.

Anas and I may hate ourselves…but we still care.

“There was snarled-up traffic this morning. Luckily, I got in when the meeting was just about to start. Sahadat’s teacher called this afternoon. Why couldn’t you be reached?”

My expression alters completely from self-satisfied smugness to shock. “I switched off my phone. What happened to my baby? Is she fine?”

“She is, now. She had a running stomach…was purging repeatedly.”

I dab my eyes, careful not to smudge my make-up. “It’s Barakah’s food that caused it. She isn’t used to eating that.”

“That is because you do not make it for her. Well, she’s fine now. She was taken to the sickbay.”

Ahh…Alhamdulillah.” I cannot imagine anything bad happening to Sahadat.

“My mom called. Zara’s engagement is this weekend. We have to attend.”

“Okay,” I reply weakly, wearing my seat-belt and wondering how Sahadat had faired all alone.

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